Our family lives several states and a long drive or expensive plane flights away from extended family. We try to see our family members at least a few times a year, but between school and work, our schedules don’t always mesh to take time off during the holidays or school breaks. Sometimes the only thing left to do is pull the kids from school and go. And I have no problem with this. I have no problem with my kids missing school for a family vacation.
Not that you need my permission to do anything, but if you are looking for a few good reasons to let go of the hesitation and guilt of your kid missing school for a few days, then let me help.
Every February my social media feeds are full of friends posting photos of their trips to tropical islands, Disney, Universal Studios, or other touristy destinations being swarmed by families taking advantage of their kids’ winter school break. The same thing happens in April for spring break. Sometimes I get resentful and jealous—mostly because I want to be somewhere warm. I would also love to be able to afford to take my kids to super cool places that make their favorite characters and stories come to life. But then I think about the crowds, the lines, and the over-priced airplane tickets and feel a bit better because I know I have alternatives.
Not that anyone needs to or even has the privilege to take a family vacation, but maybe it is a desire that can be met on a tight budget. If so, it’s okay to take advantage of cheap flights in the middle of a school week that does not coincide with vacation dates. See a great deal on family packs to a resort or amusement park a week after a holiday and when everyone is back to school? Get it. The grandparents offered to pay for a cruise for their 50th wedding anniversary, but the trip is in the middle of October? Take advantage. Say thank you. And enjoy TF out of that vacation.
The best time to take time off is when our jobs and work are not compromised. And that might mean kids have to miss a few assignments or tests.
There is nothing that a child will miss in a week of school that can’t be made up or skipped entirely. I am not proposing that school and any extracurricular sports or clubs after are not important, but with a little communication with teachers and coaches, plans can be made. The little bit of extra work for an older student to keep up with school work is worth the benefits of not only quality, but more affordable family time. Not to mention, a ton of real-life learning happens on vacation. Kids learn about tides and ecosystems on a beach vacation. You can learn about geography and history after a hike in the mountains. Even collecting a few leaves in the afternoon can be a valuable science lesson.
A kid will not remember the Elephant & Piggie book they didn’t read for homework and your teen will get over the basketball game they had to miss. But they will remember that time a seagull stole their fries on the beach or the time you rode all of the rides with them and then threw up because you are probably too old to be doing spinning things. And you will remember how good it felt to watch your kids soak up time with cousins or grandparents. None of you will be wishing you had stuck to the rules of the school calendar.
And it’s not like the administration checks with our bosses to see when it’s convenient for us to take time off. Parents don’t always have the luxury of not working when kids are home for long weekends that include in-service days or random holidays that fall on a Tuesday. Some of us have to work through holidays and breaks. The kids may be home, but we are juggling schedules, working from home, and muddling through another stretch of time at the office that can’t be missed. The best time to take time off is when our jobs and work are not compromised. And that might mean kids have to miss a few assignments or tests. Yes, my job is more important than my kids’ school schedule.
And family vacations don’t have to be a whole week long. Leave the backpacks behind and take a day trip to the zoo or the beach. Cut out on Wednesday and go camping or hit up an indoor water park. Plan on a staycation filled with movies, hikes, or sleep. Do what works for you and your crew; I promise that all of you will be better off for taking time that fits your budget and schedule rather than trying to force a trip just because Jimmy has a week off in February.
Because I had major surgery this fall, we can’t see family over Thanksgiving break. It stinks. Instead we will wait and see our relatives this spring, and my kids will need to miss a few days of school. Their education will not suffer for it. We are going to save a few bucks because our peeps are traveling to us, and the excitement of our vacation is doubled because the kids like the idea of playing hooky.
I value education. My kids love school and understand the need to treat it with respect and responsibility. I value my job and bust my ass to do it well. My kids see this, and I want to motivate them to have the same ethics when it comes to work, especially hard work. However, I also want them to know it’s okay to take a break. YOLO, right?
My kids love school and understand the need to treat it with respect and responsibility. However, I also want them to know it’s okay to take a break.
Life is too short to follow all of the rules all of the time. And it’s not like there aren’t responsible and cheaper ways to break them. Book the family vacation, folks; even if it means the kids have to miss school. I have yet to hear anyone tell me they regret memories made after pulling their middle schoolers from class in order take a family vacation that worked on their terms.